Home > Critical Summary > Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.

Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.

October 26, 2015

imageIn response to A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender, Dan Spicer writes:

Look at p. 14 in our paper from St. Louis. We have a simple explanation.

That would be Electric Charge Separation as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin: A Natural Mechanism by D.S. Spicer and E .T. Toton (Revised 23 May 2015) as found at shroud.com.

Before turning to page 14, it might help to look at an extract of the abstract that amplifies the meaning of the title and nicely explains the mechanism:

We advance the hypothesis that a constant, or slowly varying electric field was present in the tomb and that the two stated facts provide the underlying mechanism for formation of an image with vertical displacement information: the revealed surface charges on the Shroud serve as collection sites for polar gas molecules or ions emanating from the body or from the aloe and myrrh that had been applied before entombment, substances that could serve as oxidizers or other active species for inducing visual surface alterations, and the extension of the electric field in the vicinity of the surface of the body out to distances away from the body would provide mapping of surface features of the body onto the non-conforming (tented) portions of the Shroud.

… and the conclusion from the paper, here quoted from a posting last December in this blog, A Gedankened Image Forming Process:

As should be clear, our hypothesis depends on a completely natural mechanism. It does not conflate the image formation mechanism with the Resurrection, nor should it. The image is not the recording of the Resurrection but it is an image capture of the body of a crucified man consistent with the historical records of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That no hitherto satisfying mechanism for image formation has been discovered is not proof that a supernatural explanation must be the only other choice, nor does the discovery of a credible mechanism of image formation impugn the belief in the reality of the Resurrection. If it were possible to take a photo of the Ascension-where is the miracle? Is it the Ascension or the photo of it? We believe that the Shroud Image is indeed the image of Jesus Christ’s lifeless body only and it strengthens the historical argument for His existence, death, and His Resurrection.

And now the simple explanation on page 14:

Observers of the ventral side of the Shroud often comment on the detail in the hands and how long the fingers appear to be. Our mechanism for image formation explains this in a very natural way. First of all, there had to be considerable trauma to the hands and arms as a result of the crucifixion. They were elevated considerably above the rest of the body throughout the crucifixion and the arms must have been severely traumatized by having to manage the full body weight. Circulation had to be compromised and it would certainly be the case that the hands and forearms would have been considerably dehydrated due to profuse sweating, which would lead to a desiccated state for both the hand and forearm tissues, which, as a result, would reveal the underlying bones. In addition, this would have been much more pronounced than anywhere else on the body, with the possible exception of the mouth and lips. As a result of the desiccation state of both the hand and forearm tissues, the bones making up the hands and forearms would form prominences so that the surface charge density would naturally be greater on these body features, leading to sharper and high contrast images.

imageWhen in the full light of the day, a paper is examined under a magnifying glass, that light, focused on one spot, may ignite the whole paper. That maybe will happen with Critical Summary 3.0.* The spot is the chart on page 73, Image Characteristics vs. Image Formation Hypotheses, that attempts to claim that only John Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis “is judged capable of satisfying image characteristics” – that is, seventeen image characteristics selected by the paper’s authors.

Dan Spicer offers an alternative, one that to me seems more realistic than a cloth falling through a body as a function or accident of resurrection. Moreover, Colin Berry’s explanation in support of contact imprinting must also be considered. And we must consider O.K.’s argument that the appearance of metacarpals in the image is possibly perfectly natural. As O.K. writes in a comment:

The maximum range for imaging is in my opinion (based on analysis of distances of my facial features), as well as Vignon’s no more than 1-2 cm (Jackson & Jumper 3.7 cm is clearly untenable). Based on 3D plot we see that the metacarpal gaps have a greyscale intensity of ~ 90-100 (they are white), while metacarpals, and fingers are about 150-160 (green-yellow). This would indicate level difference of maybe ~5 mm. Quite possible, especially for dehydrated hands. No X-ray is needed here.

The authors of Critical Summary carefully use the word judgment. That’s appropriate. But we must realize that this is the judgment of a small team in Colorado, albeit a distinguished scientific team that understands the shroud. It is not the judgment of the wider community that studies, ponders and debates how the images on shroud were formed. I think that much, if not most, of the larger community disagrees with or is ambivalent towards the falling cloth hypothesis. The page 73 chart does little or nothing to change anything in this regard.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?


The paper is A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses by Bob Siefker, Keith Propp, Dave Fornof, Ares Koumis, Rebecca Jackson and John Jackson. It can be downloaded to your computer or any cloud space you use. You can extract a working copy of page 73 by changing your destination printer to PDF file and printing only one page of what is effectively page 75. In Windows 10, you can copy the page into a Notebook tab.

See:  Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

Categories: Critical Summary
  1. October 26, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Circumstantial evidence is an exercise in the law of probability. From a set of observations, none of which conclusively proves something, we can draw a conclusion of another fact that the set of facts are consistent with and that with which any contrary conclusion is inconsistent.

    The Spicer thesis ties together a great many other theories and speculations. It may be a thesis of that explains the “Kirlian aura” effect as a cause of the image.

    “An alternative but perhaps less likely theory is that the imprint resulted from a “Kirlian effect” or other unknown quality of Christ’s body; the aura of light and the rare condition of haematidrosis (bloody sweat) recorded of Christ may be cited in this regard.aura” William Meacham, http://www.shroud.com/meacham2.htm.

    Meacham is an archaeologist who has written extensively about the Shroud and was an expert critic of the carbon dating (I am sure most readers of the blog will know who Bill Meacham is.)

    The importance of the image is not the process of its creation which may not be “miraculous” as that term is normally used. It is what the image displays or doesn’t display. It doesn’t display evidence of putrefaction byproducts and does display evidence of rigor mortis.

    The two are related. Rigor mortis is a freezing of the muscles into their configuration at the time of death or a short time afterwards. Putrefaction is a degeneration of body tissues and is evidenced by the exuding of chemicals that would be obviously present on a shroud and lead to pronounced degradation of a shroud.

    Although times for each may very, it is not a leap of logic to assume they are related. 48 hours in the normal course is reasonable time to expect thee onset of putrefaction and the release of rigor mortis.

    Let see. 48 hours from 3:00pm on a Friday is 3:00 PM on the following Sunday afternoon. If a body had remained enwrapped in the Shroud of Turin until 3:00PM Sunday and the image created at that time or later there would be in all probability no evidence of rigor mortis and some evidence of putrefaction. Numerous examinations of the Shroud image by expert forensic pathologists have found neither evidence of putrefaction nor the release of rigor mortis.

    Scripture tells us that Mary Magdalene discovered the body of Christ missing early Sunday morning. That’s probably why approximately two billion of the world’s population celebrate that Sunday as Easter.

    • John Green
      October 26, 2015 at 9:29 am


      Have you ever considered giving a TED talk on the Shroud?

      • October 26, 2015 at 9:42 am

        I would certainly be interested but haven’t a clue how to contact them to sell them on a presentation.

        My immediate goal if I can create enough time is to do a shorter reworking of my Quantum Christ material into a manuscript working title of which is: The Pope, the Apocalypse and the Shroud. or “The Apocalypse. the Pope and the Shroud.”

        In addition to an slightly more detailed blog of what I just wrote for Shroudstory.com, I want to do a piece which would call Pope Francis’ actions a “Catholic Reformation.” These are epochal times. We really risking the extinction of humanity becasue of our abuse of the environment. Not today, probably not in my lifetime. I shudder at what awaits my grandchildren and any children they may have.

        Recommend an agent? I could uses one.

        • John Green
          October 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

          I’m not sure not it works, but here’s the contact information.


        • John Green
          October 26, 2015 at 12:01 pm

          I’m not sure how it works, but here’s the contact information.

  2. piero
    October 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    John Klotz wrote:
    “…We really risking the extinction of humanity
    becasue of our abuse of the environment. ..”

    Impact of Earth by an asteroid would be sensational
    and possibly cataclysmic. …


    …But we also know the consecration of humanity
    to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    Consecration of the Human Race to
    the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    So the question can be turned in the following
    possible future problem to solve:
    “Jesus, the Redeemer of the human race
    and the possible salvation (against the NEOs),
    with an escape on planet Mars of few people…”

    Sorry for these strange and vague
    speculations about the “future escape
    on Mars”, etc.

  3. robert w. siefker
    October 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    TSC is very interested in Dan Spicer’s hypothesis. We include a comment on his and E.T. Toton’s work in the Critical Summary. A “naturalistic” image formation process should be able to be modeled experimentally. Fanti and his team have done a lot of work on their CD hypothesis and that should be applauded. We continue to think however that over time and even with great effort naturalistic explanations will fall short of a demonstration and that “judgment” will always be the last word with the Shroud. As we state in the conclusion to the Critical Summary the latest naturalistic hypotheses, including Fanti’s and Dan Spicer’s are all forcing hypotheses that stress the limits of believable, although possibly less than the fall-through hypothesis. What can be concluded is that something very very remarkable happened to form the image on the Shroud. The image on the Shroud remains best described as an “impossible” image. The fall-through hypothesis fits the data of the image characteristics. Individuals will have to “judge” what that means.

    The image characteristics included in the Critical Summary closely follow the lead of G. Fanti’s “Compendium” as noted in our references. Why these image characteristics are important, and why we have focused on them, is because we think they are sufficient to rule out any artistic hypothesis (respectfully yours too Colin).

    • Dan
      October 27, 2015 at 1:32 am

      And I have “judged” otherwise. IMHO, the binary choices those little Xs represent are not sufficiently justified and based on observations that are still open issues. You say fall through fits the data. Okay, maybe it does (and maybe other hypotheses not listed in the page 73 chart do too).

      I say the data still warrants critical examination. We saw this with the recent “bartender” discussion about the questionable appearance of metacarpal bones and other bone structures.

      If I were making the judgment at this time, I’d have to leave Bone Structures (B9.1) off of the chart because I think it represents dubious data.

  4. Scott Metherd
    October 26, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    The gospel of John makes it clear that the shroud of Turin was not used on Jesus’ body. It speaks there in John 20:7 that there was a separate cloth referred to as a napkin that had been around his head and face and that it was wrapped up and in a place away from the rest of the grave clothes.

    The shroud may be real and was used to bury someone. It just wasn’t Jesus. Also, I would add that John was a witness to all of this and this is his account.

    • Sampath Fernando
      October 27, 2015 at 1:11 am

      Then Matthew, Mark and Luke Gospels are contradicting John. Who is correct?

  5. Dan
    October 27, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Hi Scott. I used to interpret John the same way. This YouTube may help.

    • Antero de Frias Moreira
      October 27, 2015 at 4:13 am

      This is a very informative video nevertheless one thing puzzles my mind.

      There is correspondence between bloodstains on the occipital areas of the Sudarium and the Shroud as overlays allow us to conclude.

      But the question is: Was the helmet of thorns removed trom the head of the Man of the Shroud while He was hanging dead on the cross and before the Sudarium was placed?

      It seems to me that this question has not yet been discussed
      What do you think?

      Antero de Frias Moreira
      Centro Português de Sindonologia

  6. Hugh Farey
    October 27, 2015 at 4:16 am

    “The fall-through hypothesis fits the data of the image characteristics.”

    Well, of course. The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

    • October 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Hugh, things can devolve very quickly as your comments show. There needs to be some trust in other’s integrity. Absent that, no dialogue can take place. Of course, all that you have said in your comment could be true. But it isn’t. The fall-through hypothesis is not an agenda driven hypothesis. All that TSC can do is state that fact and hope that reasonable people will evaluate it on the merits. We would suggest that as a start interested individuals read the recent forward to the fall-through hypothesis that is posted on the TSC website (www.shroudofturin.com) as well as the fall-through hypothesis itself which is also posted there. TSC is in fact very open to other hypotheses. We are yet to be convinced that any that follow “conventional physics” are adequate. The first problem is methodological naturalism. None of Jesus’s reported miracles can be explained by standard physics. Reason – – it is proposed – – cannot know such truths. Thus all special revelation and the “mighty works of God” are ruled out in the realm of reality known by reason and are only preserved in the secondary realm of subjective “irrational” faith. Jackson acknowledges this in the forward mentioned above. Yet he has persisted. He knows he will be the target of statements like “made-up physics can explain anything.” The second problem of course is the Shroud itself.

      • Sampath Fernando
        October 27, 2015 at 8:12 pm

        So far conventional physics couldn’t give an answer to the image formation on Turin Shroud.

        However from the miracles Jesus performed including raising 3 people from dead, the fall-through hypothesis is the most obvious answer to the Image on Turin Shroud.

        Yes body got dematerialised and some sort of radiation emitted during that process may be the cause for the image formation.

        Statements from the Gospels we know that Jesus had a body like Angel after the resurrection. Remember before his death Jesus told that at resurrection we get a body like an Angel.

  7. daveb of wellington nz
    October 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    The Spicer hypothesis that image formation may be related to an electric field intrigues me. At the risk of tired repetition of previous comments I’ve made, De Liso in her experiments of seismic image formation spanning some 12 years, claims that images were only formed under a set of unique combination of certain conditions, including coincident variations in the earth’s magnetic and electric fields, an occurrence common enough during earthquakes. It may well tie in with the Spicer explanation. A naturalistic explanation cannot yet be excluded, notwithstanding any unproven fall-through hypothesis with improbable physics.

    I do not believe that the Resurrection event involved the conversion of body mass into pure energy, electro-magnetic or otherwise, resulting in the equivalent of megaton nuclear bombs. The NT narratives make it clear enough that the witnesses observed that the resurrected Christ was corporeal enough, and not a phantom. However it was a body that is beyond our present knowledge or understanding of normal physics. I suppose it’s possible that our known universe may only be a subset of a higher universe whose dimensional properties are as yet unknown, a universe which the resurrected Christ seems to have been able to traverse at will.

  8. Thomas
    October 28, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Daveb human knowledge will NEVER be able to explain the resurrection. Nor a huge array of things.
    If humans will never be able be able to explain the resurrection, and if the Shroud image was created by the resurrection event then we will never be able to explain the image. And everyone’s theorising is futile. But fun!

    • daveb of wellington nz
      October 28, 2015 at 4:10 am

      Thomas, I believe there may be a flaw in your logic. In the first place to use any word that has any meaning at all, such as the term “resurrection” you must first have a definition of what you mean by that, and so we have at least the beginnings of some explanation. We also have the witnesses of the New Testament who pretty well corroborate one another as what they perceived as the “resurrected Christ”. They all perceived him as having at least some transient corporeality; he walked, spoke intelligently with them, they were able to touch him and feel the wounds of his crucifixion, he ate and even prepared a fish breakfast for them. However there is also something mysterious about this corporeality, as it seems he was able to pass through the walls of the upper room where they were hiding, and he could suddenly appear and likewise vanish from their sight, as if into another kind of dimension. So although we can have some understanding of what a resurrected body might be, I can agree that there are clearly natural limits to that understanding, as it is beyond any experience familiar to us.

      The other flaw I see in your logic is “begging the question”. You make a conditional statement that “if the Shroud image was created by the resurrection”, and then seem to assume that is necessarily true, which although it might be true, is not necessarily the case at all, as even assuming that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth, you are unable to exclude a natural cause of the image. The fact that a natural cause is as yet unknown, still cannot exclude that possibility.

  9. October 28, 2015 at 5:42 am

    . It seems to me that some individuals are too comfortable with a science-faith dichotomy that they too easily reject the intrusion of one or another into the world view. Thus the Resurrection is an event not subject to scientific investigation and analysis because it can’t be repeated.

    Almost every one on either side of the science-faith dichotomy recognizes now that the universe as we know it began with a “big bang.” Yet, it is not a repeatable event and our understanding of it is more an application of mathematics to physical observations. [If any one knows a scientist trying to replicate the Big Bang, please ask him to stop.] Now!!!

    Just as the creation of the universe was once a matter of faith and is now a matter of science even though we can’t repeat it, I would suggest that there are aspects of the Resurrection “theory” are examinable by scientific theory.

    It begins with a form of matter (a body) that is transformed into something we do not yet have an explanation of other than through faith. But that transformation happened in the here and now and everything up to the moment of transformation is subject to scientific and historical analysis.

    This of course brings us to the Shroud of Turin and its image which I believe gives circumstantial support to the Resurrection in that it was created before rigor mortis was released on the body and byproducts of putrefaction existed that would degrade the cloth. There is no question I believe that means that the body and the Shroud parted company. Circumstantially, the Resurrection is consistent with Shroud and the Shroud is inconsistent with almost any other hypothesis.

    I applaud the efforts of scientists like Jackson and his colleagues who are seeking an explanation of how the image was created. That the theories advance involve “natural” phenomena doesn’t detract one whit from the “miracle” that was the Resurrection just as the hypothesis of the Big Bang detracts from faith that at the core of our existence was a primordial consciousness from which our existence evolved.

    The best creation story to me is the Gospel of St. John: “In the beginning was the word.”

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